Roughing the Passer Has Gone Too Far

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The NFL came up with a couple rule changes over the off-season that would take place during the 2018-2019 season. These changes were made in hopes of protecting players to keep them safer. During the preseason, most thought the helmet-to-helmet rule would be the most impactful rule that was created. That’s because during the preseason, the referees were calling it on what seemed to be every other play. The rule was made in regards to the concussion knowledge we now have in the sport of football.

The rule that has really impacted the league the most is the new roughing the passer rule. Section 2 article 9 of the NFL rule book states this rule about roughing the passer:

“A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.”

The biggest change in this is that the defender can’t land on the quarterback or it’s deemed a penalty. Some players have tried to take a different approach to tackling the quarterback. Miami Dolphin’s defensive end William Hayes tore his ACL after trying to avoid landing directly on Derek Carr in Sunday’s match up against the Oakland Raiders. Consequently, Hayes will miss the rest of the season. Coincidentally, it happened because of a rule that is supposed to protect players. The only player this really protects is the quarterback. San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman had this to say on Twitter about the incident.

Other players have not changed up the way they tackle the quarterback and it has led to multiple penalties throughout the first couple weeks of the season. Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has already been flagged for this new rule three times in the first three weeks. In week two, the Packers had the game locked up after Vikings quarterback threw a late game interception. However, Matthews drew a flag for roughing the passer giving the Vikings a first down. The Vikings went on to tie the game and the game ended in a tie (another set of rules that needs changed).

In week three, down 11 in the third quarter, Matthews found Alex Smith for a sack that would’ve forced a third down but once again was flagged for roughing the passer.

I can’t put the blame on the referees for making these calls because they are calling it how it’s supposed to be called. The league however needs to fix these rules next year though because like Clay Matthews said, the league is going soft. I’m all for safety but were about to the point where we need to put some flags on these guys and let them play flag football because were taking the physical nature out of football.

I kind of see where the NFL was going with this rule. The quarterback is the most important position out on the field and they want them to have a rule that protects them. If a quarterback gets hurt, blame their lineman. It’s their job to protect the quarterback. Not this rule that is making the league soft. Even Aaron Rodgers thinks the rules have gone too far.

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